As I sit here in my local coffee house, watching the steam rise from my jumbo-sized herbal tea and listening to the sounds of 90s rock, I take a moment to observe my surroundings. It dawns on me how much of my life is coloured with beige.
The walls here are beige. The furniture is beige and dark beige. The music is standard coffee-house music. I look at the people sitting at other tables. They are all middle-aged women, some with kids, every one of them on their phone. (But then, I’m using my computer, so who am I to criticise?)
I’m not really complaining about the colour paint on the walls of my local coffee shop. It serves to remind me all too rapidly of other elements of my life that have turned beige, and just how unhappy I am with beige.
Church life and spiritual walks can get beige very quickly. We go to church, talk to the same people, sit in the same row, sing – or not – depending on the songs of choice this week, listen to the sermon with the sole intent of pulling it apart afterwards, decline the ever-present invitation to prayer, then talk to the same people again afterwards. Beige.
Beige means repetition and habit. It means we do not challenge the status quo. It infers that we are content to live this way. It fails to engage with, to risk, to try something new. Beige means that we are comfortable.
Am I the only one who is bothered by this?
Personally I’ve had it up to here with beige church. I don’t believe that God redeemed us from eternal damnation so that we could lead beige lives as it suits us. I thought He called us to die to all of that.
We can be lulled into the “happy life” so effortlessly and gradually that we do not notice it happening. Soon we don’t want to be challenged anymore because we have become heavily invested in being comfortable. Comfort is deceptive; it feels right but it can gently rock our faith to sleep.
In this beige state we are in danger of forgetting what pops of colour even look like. We may forgo the excitement of a feature wall in favour of what is cheaper and easier (that would be beige, by the way). We may actively resist attempts to re-paint, because it would mess with our schedule and the delicate balance of our ego-centric lives.
I’ve watched this happen in churches. People have actively fought against new initiatives not because the proposed changes would create problems, but simply because they are a departure from tradition. Not a good enough reason.
So here’s what I’m proposing: death to beige. By this I mean a return to our first love for Christ, an awakening of our passion for God that possessed us when we were young in our faith. Do you remember those days when you were seized with an obsession for God and nothing else but His presence mattered? Let’s return to those days.
I propose the church falls so in love with Christ again that the song selection matters less, that the politics fade to the background, that all the things of earth grow strangely dim compared to the beauty and splendor of Him. I propose we nail our self-serving comfortability to the cross where it belongs and let Jesus truly take over.